Intergenerational care : exploring locus of control of a group of older people in their relationships with younger people
This study aims to explore locus of control and care from the perspective of older people (aged 60 years and older) in relation to younger people. Nine older people (8 female and 1 male) living in the Vaalharts community in the Northern Cape province of South Africa participated in the research. From the perspective of older persons, locus of control in intergenerational relations refers to how they subjectively evaluate the control they exert in relation to the younger generation and the broader environment. The extent to which older persons subjectively evaluate rewards and punishments from the interpersonal context and the broader environment will inform the manifestations of control (internal or external). Internal locus of control refers to the subjective evaluation by older people: that they are in control of their lives and the environment, and that they can give and receive care. Older people with an external locus of control believe that their lives and environment are uncontrollable and governed by external factors. Little research has focused on locus of control and care in intergenerational relationships. The research was approved by the human research ethical committee of the Faculty of Health Sciences in the North-West University. Guidelines provided by the Health Professions Council of South Africa for psychologists were followed during and after the research process. A qualitative research approach was used. The participants were first selected by using purposive sampling. Data were gathered over three days by using the Mmogo method®. The older people were asked to make something using these materials to illustrate their experiences or the way in which they experienced care in relationship to younger people. The participants had the opportunity to explain their presentations and prompting questions were asked. The data were analysed by using thematic and visual analyses. Trustworthiness was ensured by testing for credibility, transferability, dependability and comformability. The data revealed four themes. First, the older people expressed internal locus control in relation to the younger people by accepting responsibility to care for them. In relation to the environment, they used the land proactively. In doing so, they demonstrated the expectation of being rewarded for their efforts: the land would provide them with the food as a reward. Second, older people demonstrated strategies associated with internal locus of control in relation to the younger people and the environment. They modelled expected behaviour, educated the younger people and monitored their school work. It is only in relation to disciplining younger people that older people demonstrated external locus of control. They sought external assistance to discipline the younger people, which included appeals to the police, God and the researchers. Third, the outcomes of the strategies to exercise control over the younger people were not effective, as the subjective expressions of disappointment and the rejecting behaviour of the younger people showed. Last, the older people tried to gain control over the younger people by applying escalating attempts at corporal discipline. These findings, in contributing to an understanding of locus of control and care, may be used to facilitate positive relationships between younger and older people, which are vital for both generations‟ well-being.
- Humanities